and Faith Movements
Doctrines of the Charismatic Movement/Faith Movement
The Anointing and Being
Under Authority (Part 1)
The Anointing and
Being Under Authority (Part 2)
and Healing (Part 1)
Sickness and Healing
Prayer, Asking and Receiving (Part
Prayer, Asking and Receiving (Part 2)
Christians and Material Wealth (Part 1)
Christians and Material Wealth (Part 2)
Christians and Material Wealth (Part 3)
The "Rhema" and "Logos" Word (Part 1)
The "Rhema" and "Logos" Word (Part 2)
Who Speak in Tongues Necessarily Understand Themselves
1 | Section 2 | Section
3 | Section 4
| Section 5
term Kenotic Theology is derived from the Greek words "kenos" (Strong's No. 2756)
and "kenoo," (Strong's No. 2758) which mean, "to empty." The critical occurrence
of "kenoo" as far as this doctrine is concerned, occurs in Philippians 2.
The main premise of Kenotic doctrine is that Jesus Christ was God before
he came to earth and resumed his divinity after his ascension, but just prior
to the incarnation He "emptied" himself of divine properties so that he was only
a man, and not God, during his 33 years here on earth.
Here is the key
text from Philippians 2.
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in
you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God,
thought it not robbery  to be equal with God: 7 But made himself
of no reputation , and took upon him the form of a servant, and was
made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled
himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore
God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven,
and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should
confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
First, as usual, there is some simple vocabulary that needs to be done. The word
for "robbery" in verse 6 is the Greek word "harpagmos" (Strong's No. 725.) Harpagmos
is used as a noun here and in this passage it refers to "a thing seized or to
be seized, booty to deem anything a prize, a thing to be seized upon or to be
held fast, retained." So, for the sake of clarification, verse 6 is simply stating
that Jesus did not consider his equality with God something to prize or cling
too. This is not an issue with Kenotic Theology. Those who hold to Kenotic Theology
agree with this much.
As we stated above, the word translated into the
English phrase "made himself of no reputation" is the Greek word "kenoo," (Strong's
No. 2758), which means "to empty."
Now, according to Kenotics this means
that Jesus emptied himself of divine properties. Kenotics also distinguish between
"divine properties" such as omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence and "divine
character attributes" such as holiness, love, mercy, benevolence, etc. They make
this distinction for a reason. In short, Kenotics interpret from verse 7 that
Jesus Christ emptied himself of divine properties but not the divine character
attributes. But it should be noted that the Kenotics define what is divine strictly
in terms of the divine properties. Or in other words, when Jesus emptied himself
of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence, etc. he ceased being God even though
he retained the character attributes that God possesses. So, for Kenoticists,
it is the divine properties that constitute the divine nature.
distinction in and of itself is not a problem theologically. Nor does that distinction
necessarily logically lead to the Kenotics conclusions. It's where the Kenotics
go from that point forward that is the problem.
The problem is threefold
for Kenotic Theology. First, Kenotic theology contradicts its own proof text.
Kenotics take the word "kenoo" to indicate that Jesus Christ literally emptied
himself. Therefore, they conclude he was not God while he was here on earth for
33 years. However, Kenotics also believe that Jesus Christ retained the character
attributes of God despite this emptying that occurred. Thus, even for Kenotics,
emptied doesn't mean entirely emptied, for even the Kenotics believe that Jesus
did not empty himself of the divine character attributes. And by allowing Jesus
to retain some of his former qualities despite this emptying, Kenotics are actually
acknowledging that the emptying does not require the loss of qualities. Therefore,
since qualities can be maintained through the emptying process, there is no need
to assert that this verse requires that Jesus Christ gave up any qualities at
all, including the "divine properties."
In short, the very way in which
Kenotics themselves interpret this passage contradicts the doctrine they derive
from it. Therefore, Kenoticism is self-contradicting and should be rejected.
Second, the context of this passage actually tells us specifically what it
was that Jesus emptied himself of. Starting with verse 6, we find that Jesus Christ
(who before his incarnation was known as the Word) is equal with God. Or in other
words, he is not subordinate to anyone, not even God. He was equal and supreme
over all things. But verse 6 continues by telling us that he did not consider
this supremacy something to cling to. Instead of clinging to this supremacy, verse
7 tells us that Jesus Christ emptied himself of that supremacy, that is, his divine
rank and authority. Jesus Christ did not empty himself of divinity in any way.
Rather, he emptied himself of his rank and authority as the Supreme Being and
took on the role of a subordinate, a servant as verse 7 plainly tells us.
Clearly what Jesus Christ gave up was supreme authority in order to live
as a subordinate. In verse 8, he continues to be humbled, subordinating himself
to God the Father even so far as to obey him and give up his life. Truly the Supreme
being of the Word was nullifying his own supreme authority by subordinating himself
in this way.
And verse 9-11 tell us the conclusion. Having emptied himself
of his supreme authority in which he was subordinate to none, God the Father then
restored to him this supreme authority once his mission was complete. Once he
subordinated himself to the point of death, God gave back to Jesus Christ all
the authority he had emptied himself of. He emptied himself of his kingly rights
and authority and lived as a servant. Then God gave him back his kingly authority
so that every knee would bow and every tongue confess his supremely sovereign
This is not a story of Jesus Christ giving up divine properties
or attributes or divinity in general. It's a simple statement about Jesus Christ
giving up his sovereign supreme authority by living in submission as a humble,
lowly servant. There is no reason to interpret this passage the way that Kenotics
do. The only way to end up with the Kenotics' conclusion is to start out with
that idea already and read it into the text, which on its own would not warrant
such a conclusion apart from pre-existing biases.
Third, Kenotic teaching
is in direct contrast with orthodox Christian teaching handed down by the Apostles.
As such, it is a heresy and should be rejected as such.
But, of course,
many readers will realize that they've probably never heard Kenotic Theology taught
in Faith Movement Churches. And that's true. This idea is not named, nor directly
stated in the Faith Movement. However, this doctrine is believed knowingly by
some pastors and probably indirectly by others. That's how we came to believe
it for a time before rejecting it as the heresy it is.
In reality, Kenotic
theology is necessary in one form or another by the Faith Movement doctrine regarding
how the atonement works. In short, Faith Movement teachers generally believe teach
that Jesus' death on the cross was not sufficient to atone for and redeem mankind.
They maintain that he also had to suffer torment in hell. But, most significantly,
they also demand that Jesus had to suffer spiritual death, which is defined as
separation from God.
Now, spiritual death truly is separation from God
and all unredeemed mankind suffers this fate because of sin. But, Jesus himself
did not suffer it. The problem is a misunderstanding of how the atonement works.
(For more on this see our article series on the Redemption.) In short, in order
for Jesus to endure spiritual death, he would have to be separated from God. But
Jesus could not be separated from God so long as he is God. Therefore, it is necessary
to explain how Jesus was not God for a time. And this is where Kenotic Theology
fits in because it misinterprets Philippians 2:7 as a basis for teaching that
Jesus ceased to be God for some time. Thus, it becomes possible for Jesus to die
spiritually as the Faith Movement teachers believe and teach.
real novelty of Kenotic Theology is that by stating that Jesus emptied himself
of divinity, Faith Movement teachers can still say with confidence that Jesus
was eternally God prior to the incarnation. This is essential because it allows
them to appear orthodox even though they are speaking outright heresy. Through
this subtlety, because most Christians do not consider the implications of such
ideas, Faith Movement teachers can attract large numbers of Christians from all
denominations even though their teaching necessitates heretical doctrines.
There is one additional heretical implication of Kenotic Theology on the
orthodox, Christian view of God that we might also mention. Kenotic Theology's
assertion that Jesus emptied himself of his divine properties and ceased to be
God for his 33 years on earth has profound implications on the Trinity. If Jesus
was not, by nature, God for his life on earth, then during that same period of
time, God was a duality and NOT a Trinity. This is because, without Jesus remaining
God for those 33 years, the godhead would only have been comprised of two persons,
God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Of course, such a suggestion is heresy, since
it is contrary to both scripture and orthodox, church history.
the following Faith Movement teachers have taught on the record that Jesus Christ
died spiritual, which necessitates that Jesus must cease being God at least for
a time. Once again, the page number behind each quote below denotes the page number
on which it can be found in Hank Hanegraaff's book Christianity in Crisis,
published by Harvest House Publishers, Inc. July 1997, 590 pages. Behind the page
number is the publication or tape where the original statement was made.
Frederick K.C. Price: "Do you think that the punishment for our sin
was to die on a cross? If that were the case, the two thieves could have paid
your price. No, the punishment was to go into hell itself and to serve time in
hell separated from God." - Page 383, Ever Increasing Faith Messenger [June
Charles Capps: "The sinless son of God became as a
serpent that He might swallow up all evil...If you will behold what happened when
the sin offering was made and the fact that Jesus became a serpent upon a pole,
it will change your life...Jesus died spiritually, not for any of His own sin?
He became the serpent on the pole, the snake on the ground, in the Old Testament
type." - Page 383, Authority in Three Worlds, 177, 166-67.
Copeland: "That Word of the living God went down into that pit of destruction
and charged the spirit of Jesus with resurrection power! Suddenly His twisted,
death-wracked spirit began to fill out and come back to life. He began to look
like something the devil had never seen before." - Page 383, "The Price of it
All," Believer's Voice of Victory 19, 9 [September 1991]:4.
Copeland: "What [why] does God have to pay the price for this thing? He has
to have a man that is like that first one. It's got to be a man. He's got to be
all man. He cannot be a God and come storming in here with attributes and dignities
that are not common to man. He can't do that. It's not legal." - Page 138-139,
394, "The Incarnation" (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1985), audiotape
#010402, side 1, emphasis in original.
Kenneth Hagin: "[s]piritual
death means something more than separation from God. Spiritual death also means
having Satan's nature...Jesus tasted death-spiritual death-for every man."
- Page 156, 395, Kenneth E. Hagin, The NName of Jesus (Tulsa, OK: Kenneth
Hagin Ministries, 1981), 31, emphasis in original.
Price: "Somewhere between the time He [Jesus] was nailed to the cross and
when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane-somewhere in there-He died spiritually.
Personally, I believe it was while He was in the garden." - Page 157, 395, "Identification
#3" (Inglewood, CA: Ever Increasing Faith Ministries, 1980), tape #FP545, side
Kenneth Copeland "The righteousness of God was made to be
sin. He accepted the sin nature of Satan in His own spirit. And at the moment
that He did so, He cried, 'My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?' You don't
know what happened at the cross. Why do you think that Moses, upon instruction
of God, raised the serpent upon that pole instead of a lamb? That used to bug
me. I said, 'Why in the world would you want to put a snake up there-the sign
of Satan? Why didn't you put a lamb on that pole?' And the Lord said, 'Because
it was a sign of Satan that was hanging on the cross.' He said, 'I accepted, in
My own spirit, spiritual death; and the light was turned off.'" - Page 158, 395,
"What Happened from the Cross to the Throne" (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland
Ministries, 1990), audiotape #02-0017, side 2.
"He [Jesus] tasted spiritual death for every man. And His spirit and inner man
went to hell in my place. Can't you see that? Physical death wouldn't remove your
sins. He's tasted death for every man. He's talking about tasting spiritual death."
- Page 164, 396 "How Jesus Obtained His Namme" (Tulsa, OK: Kenneth Hagin Ministries,
n.d.), tape #44H01, side 1.
Kenneth Hagin: "Jesus died as our
Substitute. He who knew no sin was made to be sin. He took upon Himself our sin
nature. And He died-He was separated and cut off from God. He went down into the
prison house of suffering in our place. He was there three day and nights." -
Page 396, "Made Alive," The Word of Faith 15, 4 (April 1982):3.
Benny Hinn: "My, you know, whoosh! The Holy Ghost is just showing me some
stuff. I'm getting dizzy! I'm telling you the truth-it's, it's just heavy right
now on me...He's [referring to Jesus] in the underworld now. God isn't there,
the Holy Ghost inst' there, and the Bible says he was begotten. Do you know what
the word begotten means? It means reborn. Do you want another shocker? Have you
been begotten? So was He. Don't let anyone deceive you. Jesus was reborn. You
say, 'What are you talking about?'...He was reborn. He had to be reborn...If He
was not reborn, I could not be reborn. Jesus was born again...If He was not reborn,
I would never be reborn." - Page 173, 397, Benny Hinn, "Our Position 'In Christ,'
Part 1" (Orlando, FL: Orlando Christian Center, 1991), videotape #TV-254.